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Women take self-defense class for more than just kicks

Senior Airman Scott Ury helps Staff Sgt. Sean Gray put on a padded suit, April 18, so he may play the role of an attacker during a women’s self-defense course at the fitness center here. Both Airman Ury and Sergeant Gray are members of the 22nd Security Forces Squadron and women’s self-defense course instructors. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Lockoski)

Senior Airman Scott Ury helps Staff Sgt. Sean Gray put on a padded suit, April 18, so he may play the role of an attacker during a women’s self-defense course at the fitness center here. Both Airman Ury and Sergeant Gray are members of the 22nd Security Forces Squadron and women’s self-defense course instructors. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Lockoski)

Jessica Lewis, left, performs a self-defense technique on Rachel Wanner, right, April 20, during a women’s self-defense class at the fitness center here. Class instructor, Staff Sgt. Kelly Skapik, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, center, watches to ensure the technique is done properly. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Lockoski)

Jessica Lewis, left, performs a self-defense technique on Rachel Wanner, right, April 20, during a women’s self-defense class at the fitness center here. Class instructor, Staff Sgt. Kelly Skapik, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, center, watches to ensure the technique is done properly. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Lockoski)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- To recognize Sexual Assault Awareness month in April, free women's self defense classes are now being offered by McConnell's security forces personnel. The instructors have revamped the course with intent to teach it more frequently throughout the year. Classes are conducted in the fitness center at the Robert J. Dole Community Center to help women raise their awareness, assertiveness and confidence to take control and protect themselves from an attack. 

"Confidence and attitude are everything, and we encourage everyone to check the class out and bring a friend. You don't need to be an athlete or work out everyday to attend," said Senior Airman Scott Ury, 22nd Security forces patrolman and an instructor at the self-defense classes. "That is the great thing about self-defense - anyone can learn it, and everyone can do it." 

An assailant could take only a few seconds to gain full control of a victim. This class shows women an attack could happen to anyone, at anytime, especially if they least expect an attack, even if they know their attacker. No one deserves, causes, or asks to be assaulted, but it happens. 

"Nothing will guarantee a potential victim 100 percent protection, but the skills and the mind set that we aim to teach will give the student an edge in certain situations," said Airman Ury. "We remind women of the things that have a potential to be dangerous."
"We want women to feel confident in the fact they are stronger and able to do a lot more than what they give themselves credit for," he said. 

Now, more security forces instructors are qualified with skills to teach this class with defense tactics that the instructors learned from studies taken from a martial arts instructor at a local fitness club. Some of the more experienced instructors have also incorporated skills learned at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and from Army pre-deployment, self-defense classes. 

Some of the things women learn covered in class include learning to free themselves from different grab and choke attacks, performing proper strikes and punches and learning the vulnerable parts of the body. 

"I enjoyed the class and it was fun. I learned a lot of techniques that I would never think to use. Plus, I feel that I could take control and grasp how to fight back in a bad situation," said Airman 1st Class Allison Shultz, an aircrew life support apprentice, from the 349th Air Refueling Squadron. 

She said that she had attended self-defense class before, but by attending this class it served as a refresher course. 

People tend to use a "fight or flight" response, a person's natural reaction to fight or flea when faced with a perceived attack, but for some people it may be hard to react at all. That is why knowing how to make a decision to survive an attack by using good maneuvering skills could potentially save their lives. 

How to assess the situation with a quick response is learned through repeated scenarios, so defense techniques become natural to use. 

The class is geared to women of all ages, whether they have had previous training in martial arts or have never even struck a punching bag before. The instructors provide protective gear such as gloves, and padded sparring equipment, and classes are held on mats to ensure the safety of the students. 

Women are encouraged to attend more than one class to increase the flow and reaction time of the self-defense moves. 

"Awareness is so important because someday the saying 'It could never happen to me,' could happen to you. Anyone could be a victim, anytime, day or night, so finding that inner warrior and knowing how to defend yourself is extremely important," said Airmen Ury. 

The next self-defense class that will be held at the fitness center is scheduled May 2 from 6-9 p.m. For more information call Staff Sgt. Sean Gray or Senior Airman Scott Ury at 759-4992.